3 Things to Look for in the Best Microsoft 365 Backup Services

Post Date: 06/01/2021
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With the heavy shift to remote work that has been seen in the past 18 months, it’s become clearer than ever that organizations can benefit from leveraging the cloud to reach their employees wherever they may be on any device. Microsoft saw a surge in the adoption and usage of their Microsoft 365 platform and services for a reason, after all.

With this shift and growth also come considerations around data corruption, recoverability, ransomware, and even user error. Whereas backup was a staple for on-premises systems, cloud backup is a foreign concept to some and still a new concept to others. Regardless of how the platform has changed, backup is still vital to maintaining continuity and providing insurance for both IT and end users alike.

For those new to cloud backup and looking for guidance, here are three key things to look for when scouting the best cloud backup services.

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1. Cloud Deployment

In times past, backup solutions were hosted on-premises and configured in a way to connect to the systems they were meant to support. This allowed the solution to leverage internal networks and be manually scaled to the needs of the organization. Similar to how it makes sense to configure an on-premises backup solution for on-premises systems, it makes sense to leverage a cloud-based backup solution for cloud-based services.

Take Microsoft 365 as an example – Microsoft 365 is an Azure-hosted platform that takes advantage of the latest and greatest APIs that can be updated at the drop of a dime. It’s built on an architecture built to scale and fit the needs of millions of users and uses many of its own Azure services in the background. To try and support the backup of a platform like this with an on-premises solution would likely require greatly scaling out servers, increasing bandwidth utilization, dealing with potentially out-of-date API usage that lowers efficiency and support…the list goes on. At some point, the value of leveraging a cloud platform is negated by the costs and effort of on-premises support.

Continuing with this example, the best option to support a Microsoft 365 environment is one that is cloud-hosted, preferably in Azure, and can support the scale and velocity at which Microsoft 365 updates and operates. AvePoint’s Cloud Backup solution is deployed on an Azure-hosted platform and leverages Microsoft’s best practices, latest APIs, and scalable Azure architecture to support the ever-growing collaboration platform.

2. Datacenter Locations

All cloud deployments are not created equal. Cloud services are leveraged by all kinds of organizations ranging from the private sector to public sector, from retail organizations to regulated industries, and everything in-between. As such, the requirements around security and compliance needs will differ – be it data sovereignty, impact level requirements, certifications such as FedRAMP, compliance with CJIS/HIPAA, and more. So, when looking for a backup vendor, being cloud-deployed is important – but more important is the deployment location and ability to comply with regulatory requirements. This also extends to the location of the backup data.

In order to better support the needs of Microsoft 365 customers, AvePoint’s Cloud Backup solution is deployed in Azure data centers worldwide and is inclusive of Azure Government. Backup storage supports Azure BLOB storage within the same datacenters or storage chosen by the customers. Between the impact level assessment of Microsoft’s Azure datacenters, the CJIS agreement held between Microsoft and many state organizations, and AvePoint’s own ISO 27001 and FedRAMP certifications, Cloud Backup is more than adequate to handle the needs of the private sector, public sector, and regulated industries.

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3. Data Scope

The last major consideration when looking for a backup solution is ensuring that it supports both basic and advanced workloads. This is an interesting topic, because the statement suggests that the solution should support more workloads than are being leveraged, and that’s partially true. When thinking through an investment it shouldn’t solely support what’s currently being used; the solution should be able to grow with the organization as more advanced workloads start being rolled out and support follows.

A perfect example of this is the influx of Microsoft Teams usage amongst organizations during the pandemic. Many, if not all, Microsoft 365 backup solutions supported SharePoint Online, OneDrive (as an extension of SharePoint), and Exchange Online because they’re common workloads that are easy to modify from on-premises to the cloud. However, Teams is an amalgamation of multiple services, including but not limited to SharePoint, Exchange, Planner, Skype for Business, services built on top of an Azure Active Directory Group objects to drive membership, and baseline permission management.

That’s a lot – and it’s likely still not even touching on the additional intricacies. The point is that Teams is a complex service with a lot of moving parts that support active collaboration. Supporting such a service takes more than just backing up SharePoint and Exchange and calling it comprehensive.

In a situation such as this, a solution that is able to back up the basic workloads, such as SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, and Exchange — in addition to complex workloads like Microsoft Groups, Teams, and Planner — is critical when looking at the overall trajectory of an organization’s growth. It’s also important to not just look at the overall workspace, but also the individual items and even permissions that are most likely to be compromised and in need of restoration. AvePoint’s Cloud Backup solution was built with the Microsoft 365 journey in mind – starting from the commonly migrated workloads— such as SharePoint and Exchange—but also supporting Office 365 Groups, Microsoft Teams, Planner, and Project Online which are likely to be used as business processes as organizations start to become more cloud-centric. For Groups and Teams, this means backing up the ownership, membership, and various subcomponents down to the files in order to ensure full fidelity restorations.

As I mentioned at the top, cloud backup services are in greater demand than ever before. The need to secure your data when working away from the office is a top priority, and as such it’s imperative to choose your organization’s cloud backup service carefully. When shopping around, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What architecture is their service built on?
  • Where are their data centers?
  • What’s the scope that they support?

If your provider answers all of these questions in a way that suits your organization’s needs, you may have found your match.

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Antoine Snow is a senior solutions manager at AvePoint, leading the Public Sector business unit. He has held various positions in IT over the past several years ranging from front-end web developer to Microsoft 365 Service Owner. In his current role, Antoine focuses on governance and adoption challenges plaguing the modern workplace and helping government organizations understand the components of a governance strategy and its implementation. Antoine's views on these topics can be found in various blog posts and has been the focus of one-to-one workshops.

View all post by Antoine Snow

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